(CTN NEWS) – The first U.S. Republican presidential primary debate for the 2024 election was viewed on Fox News on Wednesday night by 11.1 million people, according to the Nielsen ratings agency, falling well shy of the record set in 2015.
An additional 1.7 million people watched the prime-time debate on Fox Business Network, according to Fox, bringing the total audience to 12.8 million.
Republican Presidential Contenders Forum Sees Moderate Viewership Amidst Trump’s Absence
Eight of the top Republican presidential contenders took part in the forum. However, the debate lacked the audience draw of the candidate leading the field, former President Donald Trump, who did not participate.
There was scant indication that Trump’s endeavor to counterbalance the debate, executed through his participation in an online interview with Tucker Carlson around the same Wednesday timeframe, substantially impacted the volume of individuals intrigued by exploring the eight available alternatives.
READ MORE: Clash of Republicans: Winners And Losers Emerged In Rowdy First 2024 Presidential Debate
The viewership amounted to slightly more than half of the 24 million viewers who tuned in to witness Trump’s debut presidential debate back in August 2015, as reported by the Nielsen company.
This figure, however, surpassed the viewership of a GOP candidates debate in January 2016, which Trump also opted to skip, and garnered an audience of 12.5 million.
The landscape of television has undergone considerable transformation over the past eight years, characterized by the solidification of streaming platforms and a growing number of cable subscribers cutting ties.
The highest-rated program of the previous week, whether on broadcast or cable TV, was a reaired episode of “60 Minutes” on CBS, reaching an audience of 5.3 million viewers.
Although former Fox host Carlson confidently asserted that his streamed interview would amass a “significantly larger” audience than the televised debate.
And Trump made claims of the interview’s superiority over the Super Bowl in terms of viewership, there exists no dependable method of verifying these assertions.
Television Viewership Numbers for Simulcast Republican Debate on Fox News Channels
X, the social media entity previously recognized as Twitter, released a statement late Thursday afternoon, indicating that the tweet containing Carlson’s interview presentation garnered a total of 236.7 million views.
It’s important to note that this tally encompasses instances in which individuals scrolled past Carlson’s interview with Trump in their feeds, regardless of whether they actually opened the post to access its contents.
For instance, if someone happened to scroll past the post multiple times, each occurrence is tallied as a separate view.
In terms of public engagement, the numbers were more moderate: approximately 55,000 comments were associated with the interview, accompanied by around 200,000 individuals expressing their approval through “likes.”
The television viewership metric provides an approximation of the number of individuals who were actively watching the debate at any specific moment. The debate was broadcast simultaneously on both the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network.
Tactful Handling of Trump’s Absence and Legal Issues Marks Republican Contenders Debate
The debate, which lasted for two hours and was skillfully moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, cautiously broached the subject of Trump. Notably, Trump’s name was scarcely mentioned until the debate was halfway underway.
At that juncture, Baier took a brief pause to address what he referred to as “the elephant not in the room” — alluding to Trump and his four criminal indictments.
While there was evident reluctance to extensively delve into the topic, the discourse surrounding it lasted for roughly 10 minutes and encompassed some of the debate’s most intense and charged moments.
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